(Updated as of September 30, 2008)
TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:
Top rated regularly scheduled programs are primarily shows from the HEROES STRAND: MIAMI ANIMAL POLICE, ANIMAL COPS DETROIT, ANIMAL COPS HOUSTON. But this month ANIMAL WITNESS and UNTAMED AND UNCUT took the top-rated programming slots.
The best performing specials this August were TIGER - SPY IN THE JUNGLE; HIPPO: AFRICA'S KING RIVER; HEADLINE ATTACKS; EATEN ALIVE; and LIONS OF CROCODILE RIVER.
Thematic scheduling around animals / species is a favorite strategy that is employed quite often. The top rated COPS/PRECINCT block, known as HEROES is stripped at 10pm, and blocked out on Mondays. Tuesdays lean toward the wild or raw side of animal life, Fridays lean toward "reality" programming (MEERKAT MANOR, LEMUR KINGDOM), and Saturdays feature programming that revolves around dogs. Thursdays and Sundays used to be programmed differently every week, with high-profile specials or repurposed weekday programming, but Sundays are firming up with more regularly scheduled programming and specials that explore the wilder, untamed animal themes.
JULY - AUGUST 2008
BLUE PLANET: SEAS OF LIFEwas gone from Wednesdays, and the 9PM timeslot is back to various specials and programs. On Fridays, a second run of UP CLOSE AND DANGEROUS replaced the second run of MEERKAT MANOR at 9:30PM. Saturday's dog-themed night moved around a bit again, as IT'S ME OR THE DOG ran more regularly.
** August 8 6PM - 9PM: PUPPY GAMES 2008 (special)
** August 24 @ 10PM: ANIMAL WITNESS
** August 29 @ 9PM: THE GRIZZLY MAN DIARIES (mini-series)
SEPTEMBER AND BEYOND:
** September 6 @ 8:30: PLANET'S FUNNIEST ANIMALS returns
** September 7 @ 10PM: WEIRD, TRUE & FREAKY (will air regularly on Tuesdays at 9PM)
** October 1 @ 10PM: K9 COPS (new series)
** October 7 @ 8 & 8:30PM: WEIRD, TRUE AND FREAKY (new series)
** October 11 8PM - 9PM: DOGS 101/CATS 101 (10 ep series)
** October 11 @ 9PM: IT'S ME OR THE DOG (new season)
** October 21 @ 10PM: LIVING WITH THE WOLFMAN (new series)
** October 30 @ 9 & 9:30PM: HOWL-O-WEEN specials: LOST TAPES
** November 7 @ 9PM: WHALE WARS (new series)
** November 9 @ 7PM: ORANGUTAN INSLAND (season 2 premiere)
** September specials include: UNTAMED & UNCUT Labor Day marathon, September 1 from 9AM - 8PM
** October specials include: ANIMAL PLANET DOG CHAMPIONSHIPS; HOUSTON on Saturday, October 4 from 8 to 11PM; THE WORLD'S UGLIEST DOG COMPETITION on Saturday, October 25 from 10 to 11PM.
** November specials include: THE VANISHING FROG on Thursday, November 20th from 8 to 9PM
YEAR AGO/BIG PICTURE:
"The more things change, the more they stay the same" could be Animal Planet's mantra this month; there was only one official returning program from last year, and bottom-line primetime ratings were virtually unchanged.
That lone returning program was MEERKAT MANOR (now in its second season). Its household and female shares and ratings were the same as last year, while male numbers were off.
Actually, more than one-third of primetime is still taken up with the "HEROES" strand, but it is now broken out by program (ANIMAL COPS, ANIMAL RECINCT, ANIMAL POLICE), rather than by night of the week. Last year's performance was decidedly stronger than this year's.
What's new on the schedule is the "wilder" and "untamed" programming (read more blood and animal kills) including ANIMAL WITNESS, UNTAMED AND UNCUT, HEADLINE ATTACKS, AFTER THE ATTACK, KILLING FOR A LIVING, MANEATERS, EATEN ALIVE. Some of these programs have taken off (UNTAMED AND UNCUT), some, not so much (KILLING FOR A LIVING). And as we said, it all came out the same in the end.
AUGUST 2008 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
As was the case with the year-to-year comparisons, Animal Planet's August vs. July audience did not change very much. Monday through Sunday prime was basically flat; household share was down ten percent, male ratings were unchanged and female ratings dropped just five percent. Median age was virtually the same.
Monday night programming continues as a solid three-hour block of HEROES programming. Households and women dropped about ten percent of their audience for the night, while men stayed the same. Within the strand, the four programs ranked from highest to lowest are: MIAMI ANIMAL POLICE, ANIMAL COPS DETROIT, ANIMAL COPS HOUSTON, ANIMAL PRECINCT. ANIMAL PRECINCT lost the most audience vs. last month (one-third or more) while MIAMI ANIMAL POLICE gained one-fifth more 18-49 viewers.
Tuesday nights' KILLING FOR A LIVING and UNTAMED AND UNCUT both lost ground this month vs. last. The night's ratings were down seven percent among men and seventeen percent among women, the second biggest loss of the week, behind Sunday night's similar line-up.
Wednesday's numbers did not move; MUTUAL OF OMAHA saw some nice growth among men, but the mix of August's replacements (WILD CHINA, RAW NATURE, ANIMAL WITNESS) at 9PM for July's BLUE PLANET brought the night back down to even.
Thursday nights brought an unpredictable mix of programming to the table each week. From MANEATERS to DOLPHIN MURDER MYSTERY to FAT PETS and WORLD'S UGLIEST DOG, rounded out with crocodiles and hippos in the rivers. The only consistency to the night was the HEROES programming. Guess what brought in the best ratings for the night? Consistency is where it's at.
Household numbers didn't move much on Fridays, and it remains one of the lower-rated nights on Animal Planet, but it was the best night of the week for demographic audience growth. All 18-49 and 25-54 demos grew by 20% or more. The month started with good performances from MEERKAT MANOR and UP CLOSE AND DANGEROUS, and then counter-programmed the opening ceremonies of The Olympics with PUPPY GAMES. That program was below par, but it was up against...well, The Olympics, as were the next two weeks. It was the last week of the month that brought up the numbers...UNTAMED AND UNCUT opened the night with strong men 18-49 numbers, and then GRIZZLY MAN DIARIES debuted at 9, and brought in women as well. The program ranks in the top ten this month.
IT'S ME OR THE DOG moved in to Saturdays in full force, bringing with it ten percent higher female ratings and an audience that is 14% younger than last month's.
Despite taking the biggest declines of the month (about one-quarter of demo ratings), Sunday remains the highest rated night of the week. Strong programming for the night included the debut of ANIMAL WITNESS, which focused on the Michael Vick case, and according to Animal Planet, it was the highest series debut ever and the highest rated telecast in nearly a year among adults 25-54. UNTAMED AND UNCUT, which debuted last month, was also a top performer for the night.
ADDITIONAL RATINGS ANALYSIS:
According to Animal Planet, the August 24 series premiere of ANIMAL WITNESS drew in 616,000 A25-54 viewers and more than 1.1 million total viewers.
FOOLED BY NATURE, PLANET'S FUNNIEST ANIMALS, MOST EXTREME, CAUGHT IN THE MOMENT, UP CLOSE AND DANGEROUS, ANIMAL COPS: HOUSTON